Patient choice of primary care practitioner for orofacial symptoms

Br Dent J. 2008 Jun 28;204(12):669-73. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2008.523.


Objective: To determine patients' preferences regarding consultation of medical or dental practitioners for various orofacial symptoms, including patients' perceptions of practitioners' training and ability to diagnose and treat these symptoms.

Method: Patients attending oral and maxillofacial clinics in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland in relation to a variety of complaints were invited to complete a questionnaire.

Results: From a sample size of 254 patients, 220 correctly completed questionnaires were received. This showed 69% of patients regarded medical practitioners as being better trained to diagnose and treat non-dental orofacial symptoms. Eighty percent of patients regarded medical practitioners as being more accessible when booking an appointment. Seventy-eight percent of patients did not regard charges for dental care as being an important factor when deciding which practitioner they should consult.

Conclusion: Despite the significant differences between medical and dental practitioners in undergraduate and postgraduate training in orofacial disease, most patients would choose to visit a medical rather than dental practitioner. While these results suggest the need for postgraduate educational support for medical practitioners in treating orofacial pain and oral mucosal disease, they also imply a need for change in the concept of provision of oral healthcare by general dental practitioners.

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior
  • Facial Pain
  • Family Practice
  • General Practice, Dental
  • Humans
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • State Dentistry / economics
  • State Medicine / economics
  • Stomatognathic Diseases
  • Surveys and Questionnaires